Since starting this blog I've come to realise that it's as likely to advertise my ignorance as it is to show off my impeccable literary taste. So this is the moment to admit that until today I had never read anything by Joyce Carol Oates.
The opportunity to rectify this embarrassing gap in my reading came via an email from Narrative magazine about its Story of the Week. (I encourage you to take a moment to register for this free service on the Narrative website.) Gargoyle is an urgent monologue about loneliness, infidelity and betrayal in which the perspective of the narrator shifts disconcertingly from mistress to wife and back again. Its theatricality, circularity and theme reminded me of Play by Samuel Beckett, seen here in a screen adaptation by the late Anthony Minghella.
Gargoyle led me to another Joyce Carol Oates story, this time in the New Yorker. Spider Boy is just as impressive, and again features a central character who is haunted by a kind of doppelgänger.
Narrative magazine doesn't indicate whether Gargoyle comes from a forthcoming collection, but Spider Boy can be found in last year's High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories. Yet another one to add to the must-read list.
- ► 2009 (14)